Chairman's Message - Spring 2022

April 8, 2022

The World Championships are drawing to a close in Salsomaggiore. The England Seniors sadly fell during the qualifying stage, but the Open and Women’s teams reached the knockout stages. The Open team had a tough draw against Switzerland and eventually lost their early lead, but they have nothing to be ashamed of. Nor do the Women, who reached the semi-finals and lost to Turkey. Because a day was taken out of the schedule for Covid testing, the 3rd/4th playoffs have been cancelled, and the England Women will all be returning home with a bronze medal each. They have been playing to a very high standard throughout, and it’s the least they deserve.

Events supporting Ukraine continue. I played in the 3 counties (Kent, Sussex, Surrey) online Swiss Pairs last Saturday. Details of what went on and how much was raised can be found on the Kent website. The seven matches flew by, and there was a minimum amount of gibbing from partner, so all was well with the world. Congratulations to the winners, Derek and Celia Oram. The 9-High event, running at the same time, was won by Deb de la Haye and Rachel Ritchie (N/S) and Bridget de Margary and Valerie Gibson (E/W). It had 79 tables, the Swiss Pairs 90. That’s a remarkable turnout at such short notice.

News reaches me of a potential event in Manchester, in support of Alzheimer’s Research. Details are not finalised, but keep your eyes open for that one, a very worthy cause.

I have recently been to David Price’s funeral. Those who knew him will know that not only was he a splendid bridge player, but also a splendid chap. I’ve already committed a gaffe by referring to the event as a funeral – it was billed as a “celebration of life”, and quite rightly, too. The tone was upbeat and positive, and it was a suitable send-off for a decent person. A proper obituary will appear in the next English Bridge. Sad news, too, about John Pyner, one of our finest directors. Our collective sympathy to his wife, Maggs, has been offered elsewhere on this website. I would like to add my personal sympathy to that. Combined with the recent loss of Marietta Andree, who transformed club bridge in South West London, our community has been much diminished in recent weeks.

The Easter Festival is almost upon us, with the Spring Fours to follow, and then a few months later, Eastbourne. We’ve had to make some changes to Eastbourne, but it’s still a chance to get away and enjoy this charming seaside town. I’m afraid I can’t recommend any good restaurants: not because I don’t think there are any, but because I have no idea what any of them are called, nor how to get to them. I rather feel a recommendation that read “It’s Italian or French, it’s got a big window at the front and the facade in either red or blue, and you get there by walking down one of the roads off the front (I can show you which one) and then take the second or third on the left” wouldn’t be regarded as particularly helpful. Sensible recommendations will arrive via official channels, not via me.

More and more clubs are reopening. Experience suggests that things continue to move slowly. Clubs – don’t lose heart! “If you build it, they will come”. And eventually they will. It may require a bit of hand-holding for the wary, it might require a bit of coercion for those who have got out of the habit. But build back we must, and my thanks go out to all club and county staff and volunteers, who are showing great tenacity and commitment. I wish you all the very best of luck.

Finally, I have to impart the sad news that my friend and Board colleague Ron Millet is standing down, with immediate effect. On behalf of the membership (that’s you) I would like to thank him for all the time and effort he has put in over the last ten years. He will be a tough act to follow.


That’s all for now, see you when you’re older,